01/23/2014 11:09 EST | Updated 03/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Year-round schooling debated by Vernon school

An Okanagan elementary school will be holding a public meeting tonight to discuss switching to a year-round school model.

Mission Hill Elementary in Vernon, B.C., would replace the typical long summer break, with several breaks during the year. It's unclear exactly how it would work, but it could be three one-month breaks spread out during the year.

Principal Lynn Gibson says her experience at a school in Calgary where such a system was already in place showed her the year-round school model can improve academic achievement and reduce sick days.

"I got to see first-hand what the effect was of a balanced calendar on the achievement of, particularly, our struggling learners."

She says the controversial idea will be discussed at a public meeting tonight with representatives from daycares and community groups, but parents will have the final say when the school holds a vote early next month.

"As you would expect, we've got some parents that have said, 'I love this idea.' Certainly some parents that say, 'Hmmm, I don't know,'" said Gibson.

If Mission Hill adopts the year-round schedule, it would be one of very few schools in B.C. to drop the long summer break.

The B.C. government amended to the School Act in April 2012 to allow local school districts to set their schedules, provided they meet a minimum number of teaching hours, starting in the 2013-2014 school year.

Diane Steele, the principal of Garden City Elementary in Richmond told CBC News the change has worked well at her school.

"All the feedback I'm getting from parents is that it's positive, I haven't had anybody come and complain to me about it," said Steele.